Canberra Cannons

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Canberra Cannons
Leagues NBL
Founded 1979
Dissolved 2003
History Canberra Cannons
Hunter Pirates
(2003/04-2005/06) Singapore Slingers
Location AIS Arena, Canberra
Team colors White, Red and Blue
Championships 1983, 1984, 1988

The Canberra Cannons is a defunct basketball team that competed in Australia's National Basketball League (NBL). They went into financial administration in 2003 and were relocated to Newcastle, where they became the Hunter Pirates. After this venture also folded the team was relocated to Singapore for the 2006/07 season.

The Cannons have always been considered as the team of the 1980s, as it won three championships and was runner-up once more. The Brisbane Bullets could also claim this title after appearing in four finals in a row (excluding the 1990 loss to Perth), but only winning two.


The Cannons were one of the original ten NBL clubs, competing in the league's very first season in 1979. They reached the championship game with a 13-5 record, but fell at the final hurdle, losing to the St Kilda Saints 94-93 in the final.

Canberra failed to make the playoffs over the next few seasons, but in 1983 they won their first NBL championship, downing the West Adelaide Bearcats 75-73 in the Grand Final. Adelaide born Guard Phil Smyth led the NBL in steals and assists.

The Cannons repeated as champions in 1984, this time beating the Brisbane Bullets 84-82 in the big game. Smyth again had a big season, being named to the All-NBL First Team.

Canberra made the playoffs for the next three seasons but would fall to the Bullets in the semi-final each time. Championship glory eluded the Cannons until 1988, when they beat the North Melbourne Giants 2-1 in a best-of-three championship series. Smyth again was named to the All-NBL First Team after leading the league in three-point percentage, free-throw percentage and steals, and was also named Best Defensive Player. North Melbourne exacted their revenge in 1989, beating the Cannons 2-0 in the championship series.

The Cannons failed to make the playoffs again until 1992, when they were eliminated in the first round by the eventual champions, the South East Melbourne Magic. They reached the playoffs in 1996 making the semi finals before being eliminated by the Melbourne Tigers 2-1. They again made the finals in 1997 but were eliminated in the first round 2-1 by the North Melbourne Giants.

Financial problems dogged the club in the late 1990s, and the team finally succumbed to its money woes in December 2002. The club managed to play all its remaining games from the 2002/03 NBL season, but were unable to hold on to their star players, including C. J. Bruton, the son of then-coach Cal Bruton, or any imports. Canberra finished with an 11-19 record, and the team was bought by a consortium that moved the team to Newcastle.

On the 23 October 2009 it was announced that the Canberra Cannons would be re-formed out of the Canberra Gunners and play in the Australian SEABL.[1]

Honour Roll[edit]

NBL Championships: 3 (1983, 1984, 1988)
NBL Finals Appearances: 11 (1979, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1996, 1997)
NBL Grand Final appearances: 5 (1979, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989)
NBL Most Valuable Players: None
NBL Grand Final MVPs: Phil Smyth (1988)
All-NBL First Team: Herb McEachin (1980), Dave Nelson (1981), Robert Rose (1996, 1997), Phil Smyth (1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989), Cal Stamp (1980)
NBL Coach of the Year: Bob Turner (1985), Brett Flanigan (1996)
NBL Rookie of the Year: Jamie Kennedy (1983), Lachlan Armfield (1992), Damien Ryan (1999)
NBL Most Improved Player: None
NBL Best Defensive Player: Phil Smyth (1988, 1989)